Sign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York Law enforcement authorities arrested five men Thursday, including a now terminated NYPD detective, in connection with a sophisticated three-year burglary spree that netted approximately $10 million in stolen property and cash from more than three dozen Long Island homes and businesses, prosecutors said.The men were rounded up for their alleged role in the lucrative crime spree after federal prosecutors unsealed a four-count indictment Thursday charging the group with conspiracy and the interstate transportation of stolen property.The alleged burglars initially escaped detection by utilizing cell phone jammers and police scanners during the three-year crime wave, which occurred during 2009-2012, prosecutors said. But they also used traditional burglary tools, prosecutors said, such as blow torches, crowbars, wire cutters and sledge hammers.The men were identified as 40-year-old Nikitas Margiellos of West Babylon, 50-year-old Leonard Repka of Lindenhurst, 52-year-old Michael Figueroa of Mount Vernon, 37-year-old Victor Arias and 41-year-old Rafael Astacio, both of Copiague.Astacio, an active NYPD detective during the alleged burglaries, who NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly said has since been terminated, was also charged with illegally accessing the federal National Crime Information Center database, which is maintained by the FBI.A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York declined to say how the investigation started, citing inability to comment on an investigation. But he did note that all the more than 45 burglaries all occurred on LI.“The defendants were part of a sophisticated burglary crew that victimized Long Island businesses and residents for more than three years,” said Loretta Lynch, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York. “Each defendant had a role to play in this band of criminals.”George Venizelos, assistant director-in-charge of the FBI’s New York field office, said the men “did not discriminate” when selecting victims, adding that they “used a combination of physical labor and modern technology,” during the alleged burglaries.In one example, four of the men spent three hours inside a Plainview business they allegedly broke in to on April 29, 2010 while Astacio and an unnamed coconspirator monitored police scanners and acted as lookouts, prosecutors said. The group eventually stole more than 45,000 pairs of sportswear worth approximately $3 million, prosecutors said, adding that they then transported the property across state lines and allegedly stole some sunglasses on the Internet.During another alleged burglary six months later, the crew stole approximately $2 million in cash from a plastic surgeon’s office in Nassau County, prosecutors said.Authorities fingered Margiellos as the alleged ringleader but directed their harshest criticism at Astacio. Lynch said the detective was “a police officer in name only, having sold his badge and his honor in exchange for his share of their ill-gotten gains.” Venizelos added that Astacio “betrayed his fellow law enforcement officers for a chance to line his pockets with his victims’ hard-earned money.”If convicted, Arias, Figueroa, Margiellos and Repka each face 15 years in prison, and Astacio faces 17 years.
There’s racing today at Punchestown, where the first of a seven-race card will go to post at 5.50. Only Mine was a shock winner of the Bar One Racing Lacken Stakes at Naas last weekend.The filly, who was ridden by Gary Carroll, saw off the challenge of the Aidan O’Brien-trained Washington DC to win by two and three-quarter lengths at the County Kildare track.Joe says Only Mine has a bright future ahead of her.
“We want to greatly applaud the National Assembly for the passage of the NFF Bill. It is a major victory by, and legacy for, the present NFF administration. A lot of effort went into pushing the Bill, and we are very happy that it has finally been passed.“Indeed, the passage of the bill, and if assented to by Mr. President, will strengthen our resolve and provide framework to fast-track our objectives to make football an integral part of the Nigeria economy as is happening in some other countries across the globe.”Wednesday’s passage by the Senate means the entire National Assembly has endorsed the document (the House of Representatives having earlier passed it), with only President Buhari’s assent remaining for the Bill to become law.An outline of the NFF Bill shows that it, among other things, repealed the NFA Act and established NFF; recognizes football as a National Asset entitled to special privileges and concessions; recognizes the NFF Statutes as supreme law for football administration in Nigeria; recognizes that the Federation and its members shall be self-governed by the Federation; recognizes NFF as a private sector –driven and self –governing non-profit body; recognizes that all disputes should be resolved by alternate dispute resolution mechanisms enshrined in the Statutes, with FIFA and CAS as final bus-stops and; that membership of NFF being voluntary, all members/participants shall be deemed to have waived rights to take internal disputes to ordinary courts of law.It also provided for the NFF to publish its annual audited accounts and to keep same for inspection by members; clear –cut process on how Government will support the NFF through grants, subventions and appropriations; clear –cut process for Government to confer benefits, concessions and tax rebates on companies sponsoring football; organize and operate its secretariat and employ staff under its standard employments contract as done in the private sector; streamline and enhance transparency in transfer of players; provides the framework for the domestication of the NFF and FIFA Statutes and; provides clear-cut process for Government to support football by giving the National Broadcaster funds to buy broadcast rights from NFF and the Leagues at commercially viable terms and broadcast football events through the networks.… Says the Federation is not DistractedSpeaking on Sunrise programme on Channels Television on Friday morning, President of Nigeria Football Federation, Mr. Amaju Melvin Pinnick assured that his administration is not perturbed by any efforts by certain elements to distract it from its noble commitment to ensuring adequate preparation and participation of all National Teams in international competitions.His assurance comes on the heels of a similar statement on Wednesday by NFF General Secretary, Dr. Mohammed Sanusi, that the Federation is fully focused on the international championships and major matches of the several National Teams in the remaining part of the year, which are numerous.“We are not distracted at all. We have so many National Teams engaged in preparation or actual participation in major competitions presently, and cannot afford to lose focus.“Our commitment to ensure that our teams harness glory for the country from each and every match and competition has not waned in any way.”On Friday, the Nigeria U20 boys kick-started their participation in the 2019 FIFA U20 World Cup finals in Poland with their Group D opener against Qatar, with games against USA and Ukraine to come.The Senior Women National Team, Super Falcons, are presently in Austria undergoing a two –week residential camping before flying to France for the 8th FIFA Women’s World Cup finals, where they play Norway, Korea Republic and host nation France in the group phase.The Senior Men National Team, Super Eagles, will begin their camping programme for the 32nd Africa Cup of Nations (taking place in Egypt) in nine days’ time in Asaba, and have to play Burundi, Guinea and Madagascar in the group phase at the tournament taking place 21st June – 19th July.Similarly, the Home –based Senior Men Team (Eagles B), U23 National Team, U20 Women National Team, U17 Boys National Team and the Supersand Eagles have major championships to prosecute before the end of the year, just as the Super Eagles, U20 girls and U17 girls have World Cup qualifying games at hand.Share this:FacebookRedditTwitterPrintPinterestEmailWhatsAppSkypeLinkedInTumblrPocketTelegram President of the Nigeria Football Federation, Mr. Amaju Melvin Pinnick has described as ‘the real next level’ for Nigerian Football development, the passage by the Senate of the Federal Republic on Wednesday of the NFF Bill, which automatically repealed the long –standing NFA Act.A delighted Pinnick told thenff.com that the NFF Bill’s passage is the biggest enabling environment for Nigerian Football to thrive provided by any Government over the decades, and applauded the President Muhammadu Buhari administration for consolidating on its numerous and credible moves that have provided lifeblood and impetus for the Nigeria game.“The NFF remains forever grateful to the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari for the several praiseworthy moves and policies that have boosted the development of football administration and organization in Nigeria over the past four years. Indeed, we can never over-emphasize the President and his Government’s tremendous support for the present NFF to overcome its several challenges and forge ahead in taking Nigerian Football to new heights. Amaju Pinnick